Must-Read: Quality Early Childhood Education: Enduring Benefits: "The recent debate around the new Vanderbilt study...:
...Opponents and proponents of early childhood education alike are quickly turning third-grade assessments into a lopsided and deterministic milestone instead of an appropriate developmental evaluation in the lifecycle of skills formation. There is a reoccurring trend in some early childhood education studies: disadvantaged children who attend preschool arrive at kindergarten more intellectually and emotionally prepared than peers who have had no preschool. Yet by third grade, their math and literacy scores generally pull into parity. Many critics call this “fadeout” and claim that quality early childhood education has no lasting effect. Not so.... Too often program evaluations are based on standardized achievement tests and IQ measures that do not tell the whole story and poorly predict life outcomes.
The Perry Preschool program did not show any positive IQ effects just a few years following the program. Upon decades of follow-ups, however, we continue to see extremely encouraging results along dimensions such as schooling, earnings, reduced involvement in crime and better health. The truly remarkable impacts of Perry were not seen until much later in the lives of participants. Similarly, the most recent Head Start Impact Study (HSIS).... The decision to judge programs based on third grade test scores dismisses the full range of skills and capacities developed through early childhood education that strongly contribute to future achievement and life outcomes.... Research clearly shows that we must invest dollars not dimes, implement high quality programs, develop the whole child and nurture the initial investment in early learning with more K-12 education that develops cognition and character. When we do, we get significant returns.... Yes, quality early childhood education is expensive, but we pay a far higher cost in ignoring its value or betting on the cheap.